The Temple

What follows are the thoughts of my son. When he read these to me last night I thought I just had to share them…So with his permission…

The Temple

Today I ate dinner at the Thai place. I noticed some things  I had never given thought to before. A Vietnamese friend of mine works there, well actually that is where I met her, and I am friends with the owner. I noticed today, however, Lee (my Vietnamese friend) waiing to a small statue I never even saw before. I know the statue has been there for a while. It is not like they put new decorations in every day.

The people who work at this restaurant are people I have come to know and cherish deeply. I know they feel the same about me (teaching me Thai and taking 10% off my bill whenever I come in). My friend’s act, however took me back to the spirit houses (that “house” the displaced spirits) I would walk past in Thailand. It reminded me of  the monks in orange who became my friends. I was  reminded of the temples I went into with my friend Lara. I would see people putting golden leaves on the statues of Buddha for merit in the next life. I can still smell the incense they’d burn, and see the lotuses they held. Countless people walk into these centers of worship every day, these are people whom I love. Right now I am taken back to the Shwedagon Pagoda in Burma, a hub of Buddhist worship. This is the golden center of a rundown city. I see people kneeling in front of the Buddha. It is one thing to be taken in by such beautiful buildings as a tourist. However, I am no tourist. I see artificial beauty masking a dark truth. There are people who are still out there who have yet to hear the good news.

Salvation does not have to be earned; It can’t be. People without this truth go on with their day-to-day lives thinking “salvation” (I use this term very loosely) must be earned. These are what you would call “good” people.

I don’t just speak this only about Buddhists. You can apply my words to Muslims, Wiccans, and Atheists. I  speak out of my own personal journeys and adventures. How many people do we see a day? How many do we close our eyes to? It is a tragedy that because we lack love our churches are shrinking. Show me a church that loves (God, brothers, and man) I will show you one that grows.

I have often wondered what is more important, loving people, or being a witness to them. We must do both, and not witness because it is our duty, but witness because we love.

We are all TEMPLES of the Holy Spirit. I am not saying you should  imbed your chest with a cross and have people kneel at your feet. What I am saying is that inside of us there ought to be two things: First something in our life that points to the God we serve,  second a heart that is constantly worshiping God in Spirit and in truth. Each man is a temple to that which he worships: god, ideals, entity, morals, etc.  What we serve will show. How much it pains me to see  Christians pointing people away from God because we have constructed a temple to self within us.

Missions Conference 2012 Pt.10

J.S. one of the field directors for the Asia-Pacific field came to open up our missions conference. He came to us “Tired, Empty, and Dry” and told us that this is exactly where the church needs to be because only when we come to the end of ourselves can God truly begin to work.

Here is J.S. sermon from that day!

Missions Conference 2012 Pt. 2

On Sunday Chai Alpha Campus Ministries from UMASS Amherst came out and shared their ministry with us. They made free lattes for the congregation and shared about the Freedom Cafe they are setting up on the campus.

check out the work of Chai Alpha to the 30,000 UMASS students in Amherst here:

When I consider the miraculous work that our missionaries do I am humbled by the fact that God would even allow me to be a part of this glorious kingdom He is building.

Here is Shane Adams’ and Dan Johnson’s testimony along with Sunday’s message “It’s Time To Take A Stand”



Missions Festival 2012 Pt. 1

Our church just finished its annual missions conference! I am so glad to be part of church that celebrates and participates in the mission of the church at a local, regional, national and world level! Here is a taste in reverse order of what God did this year in our missions conference.

Last night we had Watoto African Children’s Choir with us. “Watoto is a holistic care programme that was initiated as a response to the overwhelming number of orphaned children and vulnerable women in Uganda, whose lives have been ravaged by war and disease.”


Pray! Give! Go! Pt. 3


Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,  baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  Ma. 28:18-20 NLT

      I have no idea how anyone can be bored with life. Frustrated…sad…stressed…these I can understand, but bored? The world is too wacky a place, just now, for anyone to be bored.

     As part of our Missions Convention this year Pastor Risto asked every member of our congregation to ask God how He would have us to go into the world and preach the gospel. This is a novel idea for many of our parishioners. Prayer is one thing. Giving is even esteemed as something every true believer should do. BUT GO!? That’s really scary!

    Well Christianity is nothing if not an adventure; So yes every Christian should find a mission and go! Nothing changes a person like a mission. I have had the privilege to counsel summer camp and to travel on missions trips to the U.K. and Mexico.  At home I have been involved in street outreach, Youth Alive in the school system, and FamJam. Every experience has drawn me closer to Christ and has definitely  kept me from being bored! And with all that there is to do in the world every one of us can find some mission that will fit our talents, health, and agility. My father-in-law’s ninety year old mother makes cookies for her church’s van outreach. If that ain’t mission I don’t know what is!

     This year I think I am heading back to summer camp. I asked one of our missionaries if I could help him with music next August. I’m already warming my voice up!

Where would God have you go?

Pray! Give! Go! Pt. 2

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,  baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  Ma. 28:18-20 NLT

     Each of the flags along the back wall of our church represents a missionary we support somewhere in the world.

     My sister is a missionary associate heading to the Netherlands. I have watched her walk the road of raising her funds. It is most definitely a faith walk. How beautiful that the church of Jesus Christ gets the opportunity to invest in the lives of men and women called of God to bring the last days harvest.

     A wise man once said to me “show me your spending and I will tell you what you value.”

    Honestly at the time if I had shown him my spending habits he would have said I valued restaurants and Wal-Mart more than the last days harvest.

    God has been asking me to simplify my life over the last year. It’s a work in progress, but I do know that I am on track to meeting the giving goals God has spoken into my heart.

Tell me, what is God doing with your giving?

Pray! Give! Go! Pt. 1

“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen. ” Ma. 28:18-20 KJV

     Every year our church holds an annual missions convention. It’s as much a part of our calendar as Christmas and Easter; But as I sense Jesus’ return drawing near, these conventions have taken on a new urgency in my heart.

     I live in a part of our country where something like 2% of the population believes that Jesus is the only way to Heaven. If the rapture should take place tonight 98% of New England would most likely be left behind.

     This year as Missions Convention rolls along I am keenly aware that I have a job to do and I am running out of time to do it in! Our Pastor has asked us to look at the mission in three areas: PRAY, GIVE, AND GO.

     I feel so overwhelmed as I look at the task ahead. Sometimes I sit in staff meeting and look at the job and just about crumble under the weight of what must be done. We are to reach how many? 98% of 11,000,000 people?!?!?!

    This is why we must pray. Prayer is not wishful thinking. It is accessing the supernatural power of God and releasing it into the situations we are concerned with. The church cannot accomplish the task at hand…but God can. He will use the church to do it. But it begins and ends in prayer.

    This year I am renewing my commitment to pray three times a week with our R.P.M. team. God has also called me to renew some private prayer commitments.

    Tell me, how has God asked you to pray?

The Beauty We Can Keep

As I stretched to life this morning against the thick green comforter on my bed, the sound of a distant thunder echoed through the rain washed air filtering in past the bedroom screens.

    The morning mist carried the jasmine scent from the black locust tree to fill my room once again. I woke up the dogs and got them ready for their morning jaunt.

    The rain had let up as I gave the dogs their run through the wet green. I caught the aroma of the flowering chives beaten in with the fragrance of lilac finishing its walk through the New England spring. The wild Irish rose had bloomed in the sudden thunder-heat of last night and the Elizabethan garden was awash with its spice.

    The baby robins twittered in their nest under the eaves as the bullfrog sang from its home in the vernal brook behind the house.

     As I wandered the yard in the rising sun I found myself desiring to distill the beauty of the moment into something less fleeting something that would last for an eternity. I wanted to freeze the frame and stand in its peace and apparent perfection forever.

     Then God put me in mind of a conversation I had several years ago with a young man who had joined himself to our church. He was a young spitfire preacher who loved Jesus but thought of the Savior in the context of a bizarre mixture of Pentecostalism and Liberation Theology.

     I can still recall sitting at lunch with him in that little diner. He was almost weeping over his cup of coffee as he zealously asked “What can we do to turn this thing around Pastor J? What can we do to stop God’s judgment on the world? We can’t lose all this beauty! What do we have to do to save our planet from the wrath of God?”

     A little shocked I replied “We can’t save the planet. The Bible says it is going to burn. The only thing we can rescue out of the world is souls.”

     This morning as I walked through my gardens I thought about those words.  A day is coming when the scent of lilac and locust, chive and wild irish rose will be burned away by the fury of our God. In that day my earthly garden will stand no more. I cannot keep its beauty no matter how much I desire too. But there is a beauty I can keep. It is the beauty of souls saved for eternity.

        It is for this reason: “The Spirit of the Lord GOD [is] upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to [them that are] bound;  To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. ”  (Isaiah 61:1-3 KJV)

     Those moments of “perfection” we experience in life, like the moment I had in my garden, are but quickly fading reflections, echoes of the heavenly life we truly long for. They are exquisite and dangerous if received in the flesh.  Carnal humans get lost in those moments of earthly beauty and turn their attention to seeking the echo rather than the singer, the reflection rather than the source. Sadly echoes quickly fade and reflections do not remain when once the mirror breaks (as life is wont to cause). Disneyland will never satisfy the cravings of the soul for adventure. Hollywood can never satisfy our desire to be loved even with its greatest romance and I cannot keep the passing beauty of this morning’s gardens.

     But there is a beauty we can keep if we will turn our attentions away from this world and focus ourselves on the Lord’s garden of souls. If I recognize that what I truly long for when I walk my gardens is the home I have in eternity and to be able to share it with the rest of the world, then my hunger for beauty is taken from the world and placed in the hands of the Savior where it belongs. He then can rightly position it so that, with Him, I focus on gardening for souls. My life becomes about scattering and cultivating the seed of the Word in the hearts of my fellow-men.

     Then I can enjoy the beauty of the Earth. For it is in the context of the beauty of the Kingdom of God I see it all!

May your focus be eternity and your joy in life be the hope of Heaven for yourself and all your loved ones!

A Generation That Knows How To Speed

    ” Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you teach, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.” I Tim 4:12

     I have the awesome privilege of serving one more time as youth pastor at my home church. When I retired from youth ministry 3 years ago I really thought my time among the teens had come to an end. But once more change has brought me full circle right back to my roots. So until June I will continue on as Pastor Wrinkles, venerated elder of the young.

     This is a generation of passion and strength if ever I saw one! I hear talk of “raising the dumbest generation” and ” our entitled, witless youth”. I have to say I don’t see it. I do see a lack of knowledge, a  huge dose of cynicism and a fear of buy-in but that has more to do with our generation’s sin than theirs.

     Another youth pastor once told me “money follows vision”. If that is true it is because people who control money follow vision. If you want to make a goal with a team you have to tell them what it is no matter how old the members of the team are.

     The youth I serve are growing passionate about God and about the mission He has given them. This is so because they are hearing from the Scripture that God has a goal for them to shoot for.

     In our church, the Beyonders (everyone over 18) pay the salaries of our missionaries. The wrinkly people keep the servants of God in milk and sneakers. The Youth provide the missionaries with what they need to do their job. The Youth buy the missionaries their cars, planes, boats, computers, sound systems, and movie projectors. We call this outreach Speed-The Light.

     These kids know how to speed! This year our group of thirty kids pledged $7,797.00 to Speed-The-Light. So far they have raised $2501.00 for the ministry! Hallelujah!

     Last Wednesday night our kids hosted a Speed-The-Light service for our church.  Our special project that night was to buy 5 Kindles for pastoral candidates in Cuba. The Kindles will be loaded with the entire four-year curriculum for Bible college.

     God did it! We are given the privilege of sending five new pastors into the harvest field! How cool is that?

    This generation is hungry for a vision they can buy into. Once they have the vision I have seen they can really Speed-the-Light!

What do you see are the greatest hindrances to this generation’s motivation?